How do you take your coffee? In Hanoi, the best coffee comes with egg yolk. That’s how it’s served at the famous Giang Cafe.
Walk down any street in Vietnamese capital and it quickly becomes apparent this is a country that’s crazy about coffee.
From people sipping and sitting on low plastic stools on the sidewalk while gossiping with friends, to those who prefer the pricier, hipster-style cafes popping up around Hanoi, the need for caffeine is inescapable.
On one of the endlessly busy streets in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, tourists and locals alike can be seen searching for the almost-hidden cafe down a narrow alley where the original cà phê trúng (egg coffee) can be found.
Giang Cafe is located in 39 Nguyen Hu Huan, Ly Thai To, Hoan Kiem. Blink and you’ll miss Cafe Giang’s narrow, dark doorway and sign. To enter, you need to walk through a hallway, which opens out to a two-story cafe.
On the menu is an array of drinks but all anyone is ordering is this beverage, in hot or cold versions. The hot one, served with the cup sitting in a small dish of hot water to maintain its temperature, is almost too thick to drink, so I use a small spoon.
It doesn’t taste of egg -more like vanilla- and while I can taste the coffee at the bottom of the cup, the egg part is surprisingly light -tasting and not at all sickly, though certainly sweet. The cold option, laden with ice, is more of a dessert and tastes like coffee ice cream.
While venues across the city now serve it, Cafe Giang claims to have invented it. The cafe’s owner, Nguyen Van Dao, says the recipe includes egg, condensed milk, coffee powder, some butter and some cheese.
His father invented the drink in 1946 while working as a bartender at the city’s Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel. At the time, milk was scarce in Vietnam so whisked egg yolk was used as a replacement. “It’s a secret recipe,” said Mr Nguyen.
Everyone at Hanoi’s humble Cafe Giang however, is after something more than just a caffeine fix. Other Hanoi cafes have attempted to imitate the drink, but the packed venue offering the authentic version is still the most popular spot in town for an egg coffee fix.
Other Hanoi cafes to get an egg coffee:
Owned by Mr Van Dao’s sister, this is perhaps the second best place in Hanoi to savor some cà phê trúng and features views of Hoan Kiem lake.
13 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; +84 (0)4 3824 2960
Selling Fair Trade coffee by utilizing farmers co-operatives from regions throughout Vietnam to provide poor farmers with better working conditions and incomes, Oriberry has two locations in the city.
25 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi; +84 (0)4 6275 8669
36 Au trieu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; +84 (0)4 6275 8669
Quirkily decorated, this cafe/bar with an underground vibe draws mostly a local crowd and serves great coffee and drinks.
2nd Floor, No.1, Ta Hien Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; +84 (0)98 453 03 82
Set in a gorgeous colonial mansion, Loading T is perhaps one of the most charming spots to grab a cup of coffee in the city. Watch the above video for a look inside.
2nd Floor, 8 Chan Cam, Hang Trong, Hoan Kikm, Hanoi; +84 122 786 8686